Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 Review
When we first looked at the DMC-FH20, we didn't think much of it. It looked like an ordinary, silver, slim compact camera with a no-nonsense design. But behind the ordinary design is a powerful camera with good features for the money. Featuring 14.1 megapixels, and a powerful lens with 8 X zoom, and an optical range of 28 - 224mm, the FH20 has many things that make it a favorite for shooting family occasions and special events.
Let's talk about the look and feel. As we said, when we first looked at it, it looked rather ordinary. It comes in silver, as well as blue, black, violet and red. The front of the camera is fairly standard with the Lumix logo, and the 8 X optical zoom lens with a lens cover. Located in the top right is the autofocus assist lamp, and self timer indicator. The flash is located a bit off the center of the camera.
In the top panel of the camera is the speaker and mic. Near the center is the power button, and to the right is the shutter release button with a zoom toggle surrounding it. To the right of the shutter release is an iA button, that enables you to change from intelligent auto mode to normal picture. When you use intelligent auto mode, the FH20 chooses the best scene mode for the particular scene you're shooting. Some of the scene modes available are: Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Macro, Night Scenery, and Sunset. If you use normal picture mode, you can adjust a bunch of things from white balance, ISO, resolution, burst mode, etc. This camera doesn't give you full 100% control though like a DSLR, as you can't change aperture or shutter speed though.
On the back of the camera is a nice 2.7 inch LCD display with 230,000 pixels. It's a pretty good LCD screen, and you can still view it in direct sunlight. The LCD adjusts its brightness level, depending on how bright it is outside. The controls located to the right of the screen are standard ones you'll fit in most cameras such as the record/playback switch, a mode button, and the 4-way navigational control with a Menu button in the middle. Below these controls lay the display button, and a Q. Menu button, where you can change settings, as well as delete photos.
There's no way for you to transfer HD video to your HDTV as there's no HDMI out. If you want to watch your HD movies in your HDTV, you're going to need a TV with a SD slot. So the HD video mode is basically just for shooting clips for your computer, and sharing them online via YouTube. You also can't zoom while video recording.
Let's talk about the lens. It's a pretty powerful lens, with 8 X optical zoom, and a range of 28-224mm, making it incredibly versatile. You can shoot wide angle landscape or landmark shots, as well as shoot faraway subjects while zooming it. The FH20 has optical image stabilization as well, so it helps get rid of some blur, but it's not 100% effective. If you have good technique, and a monopod, you'll have little problem getting sharper photos though.
The FH20 is made for the person that just wants to take photos, and wants the camera to figure out the best settings. As we said, you can't fine tune the shutter speed and aperture. With intelligent auto, the camera does all the work of analyzing the scene, and choosing the best scene mode to use. In practice, intelligent auto is pretty quick in choosing the best scene mode, and it often chooses the right one.
The performance is pretty average. Full AF shutter lag is slow, measuring .67 seconds at wide angle and .89 seconds at telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is pretty quick though at .01 seconds. Cycle time is nothing special, capturing 1 frame every 2.4 seconds in single shot mode. The burst speed is 1.5 frames per second, so you shouldn't expect reliable results shooting fast moving pets or kids. We generally had good results shooting just stationary subjects.
In terms of image quality, we were pleased with it. There is some over-saturation, particularly the colors red and blue, but this is not surprisingly since most cameras tend to over-saturate colors to produce more pleasing, vibrant, "consumer-friendly" colors. Hue accuracy is solid, though cyan tended to be a tad inaccurate. The noise profile is what we expected from a camera of this class. Details are good when you stick with low ISOs of 80 and 100. When you go up to 200, you'll notice some softening appear. At ISO 400 and above, noise become a bigger issue, and it'll affect your print quality.
For ISO 80, you can still get prints as big as 16 X 20, and they'll look nice and detailed. ISO 100 shots should stick with 13 X 19 prints. ISO 200 shots look better with 11 X 14 prints. At ISO 400, you can still manage good 11 X 14 prints. At ISO 800, you want to drop down to 5 X 7, and at ISOOO 1600, you might want to drop down a bit more to 4 X 6 inches.
- 14.1 megapixel CCD
- 8 X optical zoom
- 28-224mm equivalent lens
- 2.7 in LCD display
- ISO of 80 to 6400
- 5.6 ounces
- Lens is powerful with wide range
- Compact and slim
- Control layout is user friendly
- Good LCD screen
- Good photo quality in low ISOs
- Prefocused shutter lag is quick
- Soft images at high ISOs
- Slow autofocus speed
- Can't control aperture/shutter speed
- Can't watch HD videos in HDTV
- Can't use zoom when video recording
The Lumix DMC-FH20 is not a perfect camera by any means, but it's a good camera for the money, especially considering you can get it for less than $200. It has a very versatile lens with an excellent range. It's not very fast, so you better use it for capturing stationary subjects, not fast action shots, and it doesn't perform well in low lighting too. Those are not major flaws though, and for the mainstream consumer like families, you'll find the DMC-FH20 will perform wonderfully in 95% of situations. It's a good value, and you can't go wrong with it.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $167.94.
Note: This is a 16% off Amazon coupon and one of the best deals for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20.
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|Amazon||$167.94 (Cheapest Price)|
|Abes of Maine||$169.95|
Prices last updated on: Thu, 15 Apr 2021 18:38:57 PDT